Not trying to be dramatic or anything, but Snapchat and Instagram have kind of taken over my life.
I wish I was joking. I wish I was exaggerating to make myself sound a little more obsessed than I actually am, but unfortunately, I am not.
Everyone knows that my generation lives and breathes social media. We go to sleep after endless hours of scrolling and when we wake up, we immediately grab our phones and start all over again. We look forward to seeing the notifications pile up and check our Twitters every ten minutes to see what’s happening in the world. Even when we’re with other people, we find ourselves glued to our cell phone screens, rather than focusing on the actual moment. We hate to admit it, but we are all a little addicted to social media.
I decided I needed to do a social media detox after I realized I was becoming way too obsessed with Snapchat. I would wake up and feel obligated to open the app and send my streaks. I have streaks with over 15 people, some of which have lasted over 300 consecutive days, and I’ve even taken over friends’ snaps if they’re unable to send their streaks. Most of the people I’ve had streaks with, I solely communicated with them through Snapchat. It was like a way of maintaining the friendship, without actually putting in any effort. We never sent each other real messages, just photos of the wall, the ceiling or our faces with a filter. Basically, I was using Snapchat just to send blank, meaningless photos and increase some useless number. (I was also madly in love with the filters…) So to fix this unhealthy obsession, I decided to completely log off the app for a week. No streaks, no taking selfies with my favorite filter (the bear with round circles lenses!), no snaps of my food and absolutely no checking stories. For a week, I would focus on only myself and not worry about what everyone else was doing.
Alongside Snapchat, I also logged off of my second most time-consuming obsession: Instagram. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Instagram. As a Communication major, I’ve done some research on the effects of the photo sharing app, and have become well aware of its huge impact on how our society communicates with one another. Instagram, despite seeming harmless and friendly, is proven to negatively affect many of its users. It can make us competitive, insecure, and feel the need to craft the “perfect” life online.
So for my own mental health and sanity, I logged off both apps and vowed not to log back on for a week.
It was a long week.
The first three days were an endless cycle of me casually opening the two apps and staring at the log in screens and experiencing feelings of FOMO.
Until then, I never realized how hard it is to resist the urge to share what you’re doing. As lame as it sounds, I felt like my hangouts weren’t real unless I publicized them on my story. As if anyone actually needs to know what I’m doing at every waking hour of the day (News flash: they don’t).
I started to miss mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and tapping through people’s Snapchat stories. I missed waking up to the streak photos and receiving Instagram messages from my friends saying, “Eliz, this is so you!”. I missed taking snapchat selfies with filters that made my eyes bigger and nose thinner. I especially missed stalking my favorite celebrities’ Instagram accounts and lusting over their cohesive and aesthetically pleasing feeds.
I missed these social media apps… until I magically forgot about them.
By day four, I stopped thinking about sharing every detail of my day. Even my FOMO somehow disappeared. I got used to living without the apps I was once completely addicted to. I didn’t care if I was missing out on some awesome party or if my friends were out doing something cooler than I was. I was happier without posting.
I also became a lot more present. I gave my full attention to whatever I was doing at the moment. When I was with my friends, I only touched my phone to respond to texts. I stopped reaching for my phone in the morning right when I would wake up. For the first time in a while, I spent more time reading an actual book than being on my phone!
When the detox ended and I finally logged back into my accounts, I was underwhelmed. I realized that I really wasn’t missing much from being off the two apps for a week.
The social media detox wasn’t easy, but it was definitely needed. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed by how much you spend on your phone, take a week to recharge your soul and sanity.
Log off your most time-consuming apps and ditch your phone for a bit. Go outside and read. Invite your friends over to paint, without touching their cell phone. Take some photos, but don’t open VSCOcam right away. Be you, unfiltered. Enjoy the moment; It’s better in real life than online!